The scourge of renaming streets, avenues, alleys, and cities is not unprecedented, neither is the idea of renaming an airport.
Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government in India renamed the Gorakhpur Airforce Station to Mahayogi Goraknath Airport after the founder of the Nath monastic movement; and likewise, the Agra Airport to RSS ideologue Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay airport. This is a common process followed by governments in India, and the BJP government seems to be following the footsteps of its predecessors.
However, what is unprecedented is renaming an entire city after an airport. To rename the airport of a city, you could just rename the city?
It is trite to say that there is no absolute protection against such extreme reclassification. In the present political world, the airports in the cities are named and classified after political personalities, celebrities, freedom fighters or on the basis of local political history. In order to elude any naming controversy the political parties, to accomplish their vendetta, might come up with this reclassification.
Imagine the city of Lucknow being renamed as Chaudhari Charan Singh city of U.P.; Singapore being renamed to Changhi city; Eastern Cape in South Africa renamed after East London; New Delhi being renamed to Indira Gandhi; city of Patna after Jaiprakash Narayan; Raipur city to Swami Vivekananda; and Rome being renamed after Leonardo da Vinci. Oh, the irony!
Although there is an earthy honesty in naming places that ring of history, it resultantly agitates natives and confuses visitors. The former becoming fractious about the selection of the local hero and the latter being forced to mug up the local political history to know if they are flying into the right city.
Perhaps, the principle can be extended to city streets and neighbourhoods, to end the menace of political renaming. But this principle cannot degenerate into an assault on history which has been a progress in countries like India, where illustrious names from suddenly suspect dynasties are wiped out in favour of wholesome nomenclature.
It is high time to quicken a global convention to restrict the naming of airports to the name of the cities they are established in. Unless we are ready to rename Rome as Leonardo Da Vinci and New Delhi to Indira Gandhi National city.
When geographies change ownership, their physical markers must render the fact visible, but it shouldn’t connive to a direct assault on the history.